The Bottom Line
- Lively reading
- Great use of maps and timelines
- Covers more than the Classical World
- Clarifies the regions' geography
- Lack of substantiation and errors
- Doesn't cover the New World
- Sometimes puzzling choice of what to leave out
- The first volume in a world history series.
- 5 sections: Edge of History, Firsts, Struggle, Empires, and Identity.
- Each section covers Mesopotmia, Egypt, the Indian Subcontinent, China, and the Mediterranean, where appropriate.
- Maps and timelines for each chapter.
- 800 pages total. 38 pages of footnotes, 12 pages of works cited, 35-page index.
Guide Review - Review: History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer
Rather than tell the story of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China, each in turn, Bauer elaborates the development of civilizations across Asia, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean, from small groups with leaders responsible for keeping the tribe alive to kings and then rulers over vast empires.
It's easy to ignore geography, but Bauer doesn't want us to. When she discusses invasions, she plots all the relevant landmarks so you can visualize movement and track the obstacles and peoples in the army's path. For someone from the Northern Hemisphere, the geography of Egypt can be confusing. Bauer uses a trick to help. She turns the maps of Egypt upside down, so Upper Egypt is on the top of the page.
Bauer also doesn't want us to visualize civilizations in a vacuum, so she describes the roughly simultaneous developments across much of the area that made up the old world. Timelines in every chapter track concurrent developments elsewhere.
Bauer comes from a homeschooling family. I think it shows in the care with which she clarifies confusing material. Some may find a religious bias.
It's a big book, and although usually entertaining and fast-paced, it takes devotion to get through. Its limited annotations may make it hard to use as a reference tool, although you can explore the extensive bibliography. In all, I am thrilled to see such a thorough resource for homeschooling families who want to know all about the (written) history of the ancient Old World, especially for the period before the Greeks and Romans.